News you can use for the kitchen

I love using my deep fryer, but the oil can get contaminated with bits of batter and food that will scorch and flavor the oil. Here is a method of clarifying the oil using gelatin, and avoid all that messy straining.

1. After deep-frying, allow your cooking fat to cool to room temperature or slightly warmer.

2. Measure into a small pot half a cup of water for every quart of used oil. Sprinkle it with one teaspoon of powdered gelatin per half cup of water, and let the gelatin hydrate for a few minutes.

3. Bring the water to a simmer (you can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave), stirring, until the gelatin dissolves. Stirring vigorously and constantly, pour the gelatin/water mixture into the dirty oil. It should look very cloudy and relatively homogeneous at this stage. Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator (or transfer the mixture to a separate container before refrigerating), then allow it to rest overnight.

4. The next day, pour the oil from the top of the pot or container into a separate clean, dry pot. Discard the disk of gelatin that remains. The clarified oil is ready to use.


Has Col. Sanders’ recipe been revealed?

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Original Recipe has long been my favorite fried chicken (besides my mother’s, of course). About once a month, nothing will do but to run to the KFC restaurant down the street for a bucket of finger licking goodness. I was never sure what makes it so tasty, but it definitely involved black pepper.

The Chicago Tribune thinks they have seen the recipe:

The recipe came to us by way of Colonel Harland Sanders’ nephew, Joe Ledington of Kentucky. He says he found it in a scrapbook belonging to his late Aunt Claudia, Sanders’ second wife. Ledington, 67, says he used to blend the spices that went into his uncle’s world-famous fried chicken, and the recipe in question is the real deal.

The Tribune staff, through a little trial and error, fried up a batch that they claim was mighty close to the Colonel’s chicken. It did involve one more ingredient, but don’t worry, they included that bit of info in the story.

KFC’s reaction? “Lots of people through the years have claimed to discover or figure out the secret recipe, but no one’s ever been right.”


A Guide To The Best And Worst Easter Treats Known To Man

From Rich Cromwell at The Federalist:

The worst? I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Peeps, those wretched, funky hunks of marshmallow sadness and evil disguised as cute little bunnies and chicks. They are a “treat” so horrible they were invented by Satan himself as part of a nefarious scheme to make people doubt the inherent goodness of the world. For if the world truly were good, and God real and loving, why would Peeps exist?

The best? Cadbury Crème Eggs, of course!


There is no food which can’t be improved by deep-frying

A recent study at the University of Granada in Spain has found that frying vegetables in extra virgin olive oil changes them for the better, adding phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant properties. Boiling and other methods of cooking veggies have no such benefit.

Phenolic compounds are substances produced by plants, and as such are present in many of the foods we eat. In plants, they can serve as a sort of protection against insects or other pests, and they also add color or flavor to the plants. And when we humans eat plants, we reap the benefits of the phenos’ antioxidant properties, which have been associated with reducing the risks of certain diseases.

Via Popular Science.


Making gumbo

I have been in cooking mode lately, and this cool weather always brings chicken gumbo to mind. I made gumbo for Christmas, and when I mentioned that to friends at work, I was volunteered to make gumbo for a little celebration tomorrow in the Children’s Health Center.

Now, I can’t pass for Cajun, but it is hard to live in Louisiana without having an appreciation for Cajun food, and chicken gumbo is not hard to make.

First, you make a roux. Many of you learned how to do this in your mother’s kitchen before middle school, but for my friends outside the Bayou State, this is how I do it.

Start with 1 1/2 cups of flour and 3/4 cups of oil (2:1 ratio). I use olive oil when I have it. Brown the flour in the oil over low heat. This requires a lot of patience and a lot of stirring to avoid scorching your roux. I like to brown my roux until it has a chocolate color. You can make your roux in your gumbo pot, but I find it easier to make it in a large skillet, then transfer it to the pot.

When my roux is good and browned, I add about a cup of chopped onion, and cook the onion until it is clear, stirring a lot to keep it from scorching. I then add 1 clove of garlic, finely minced, and cook it a little longer. At this point, I transfer the whole mess to my gumbo pot.

Add eight cups of liquid; Justin Wilson used 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sauternes wine, but I just use Swanson’s chicken stock from the grocery store. I then add 2 tsp salt, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoon of Louisiana hot sauce. You could use fresh cayenne peppers, but every time I have tried it, I put too much, and the results were like liquid fire. You can adjust the amount of salt and spice to taste, but remember, once it is in there, you can’t take it back out!

I then add one pound of andouille sausage, and two pounds of chicken meat. I cook and then chop my chicken prior to adding to the gumbo, and I prefer dark meat for the added flavor.

I have made gumbo with wild duck or squirrel meat, and smoked venison sausage. Almost any game meat will do, but I draw the line at nutria in my gumbo!

Many cooks have told me that gumbo is better if it sits in the pot in the refrigerator over night, then reheated and served the next day. Serve it over rice, of course, and some folks like it with a little filé (ground sassafrass leaves for you non-Louisianians).

I am sure my Cajun friends can add other ways to make a good gumbo,but this simple method is good enough for this North Louisiana boy, and my Benoit sister-in-law thought it was great.

Give it a try–everyone needs to know how to make gumbo!

Here is my roux browning:


The problem with GMO labeling

From Popular Science:

…if we’re going to use legislation to force food companies to provide more information, let’s make it more meaningful information.

There’s something not quite right about labeling something “GMO” or “nonGMO.” Folks in states that have passed labeling legislation—Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut—will know just one thing: that their food “may contain GMOs.” That label is way too broad, too vague, and ignores the actual traits introduced to the foods. The label prompts consumers walking through the grocery store to make one of two decisions: “yes” or “no” to bioengineering. I think that a world looking at a food crisis in the next 50 years requires a deeper level of understanding. We should be engaging with the traits themselves, not just the technology by which they were introduced.

The traits engineered into the crops are desirable traits. If you don’t want your soybeans sprayed with Roundup, okay–buy organic. But making corn higher in lysine is a good thing; so is developing drought or salinity tolerant plants. And, as I have pointed out before, man has been genetically modifying his crops and livestock since pre-history. Doing it in the lab merely makes it easier than laboriously crossbreeding for specific traits.

If you want food labelled as GMO or non-GMO, great. I will be looking for the GMO label, since these foods will probably be healthier!